The original line-up of the ABB with Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley was watershed, melding blues, jazz, and roots music unlike any other American band before or since. Yet the second incarnation with pianist Chuck Leavell and the late Lamar Williams in the bass chair – took that template and despite deep dissension within the ranks, waxed two studio slabs and a live two-fer which brought the ABB to a much wider audience.
Lamar, who carved his plectrums from Clorox Bleach containers, was a far more in-the-pocket player than his predecessor Mr. Oakley. As such – Chuck, Gregg, Butch, Richard, and Jaimoe had space aplenty to further groove and improvise. To my ears, Lamar’s finest work with the Brothers was on the only studio album wherein he appeared on every track: the flawed but occasionally dazzling Win, Lose or Draw (1975) as evidenced on Betts’ brilliant “High Falls.”
After the band’s demise, Lamar founded the jazz fusion ensemble Sea Level with Jaimoe and Chuck, which waxed two fine platters in 1977: Sea Level, and Cats on the Coast.
Williams passed at the age of 34 in 1983 due to exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.